Feeds

I am a recovering Superwoman wannabee

People don't overclock well, says Phoummala Schmitt

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Sysadmin blog Working moms such as me often fall into the trap of the Superwoman syndrome. The Superwoman syndrome describes the woman that tries to achieve it all: the pursuit of a successful career and a happy family life.

The Superwoman can tackle any challenge thrown at her; she is invincible. She can carry all three kids on her back while wearing high heels, racking a server, and performing an Exchange migration in the blink of an eye. If it's cold outside, she can even knit you a blanket while the upgrade is completing.

Women in tech have it especially rough because not only are we raising our children, we are challenged in an industry where the jobs are more competitive and demanding with long hours. It's a tough game of male egos mixed with discrimination, stereotypes, and fears. If you want to succeed in IT, you need to work hard and play hard.

People don't overclock well

Women need to let go of the myth that we need to do it all, and I am no exception. I put everybody and my career above my own needs. I felt I had to keep up with my peers at work and meet the expectations I put on myself as a mother.

My early days in tech were bumpy. I struggled with stereotyped perceptions of women in IT that I thought I had overcome, but in reality I still had not. I felt - and still continue to feel - not equal to my colleagues. I had to prove myself to them to gain acceptance. Was it my own insecurities or the unknowing actions of my male colleagues that gave me this fear?

To be honest, probably a mixture of both.

If there were a support group for Recovering Superwoman wannabes, my name would be on the top of that list. I am a systems engineer by day and crazed workaholic mom by night. I'm the mom on the bleachers glued to her iPhone responding to emails and fixing server issues while at the football game. I'll be damned if I miss a child's activities or a miss a heartbeat at the office. I rarely use vacation days; they're for the kids.

It's just a scratch

Taking a day off for herself is not something an aspiring Superwoman does. I even scheduled an Endometrial Biopsy as a long lunch, no big deal; I had delivered a 10lb baby naturally, so this would be a piece of cake.

That's what I thought until the biopsy turned out to be a little more involved than expected, with just a local anesthetic and some Ibuprofen. I wiped the tears from my eyes and returned to work. Ladies, don't try this.

Take the afternoon off and crawl into bed with a nice heating pad. My fear of looking weak consumed me to the point that I would endure pain so I would not be thought of any less. When you work with all men the last thing you want to do is mention you have woman issues.

Once that happens you've been thrown off the bus and the idea you are one of the guys is out the door. I didn't want to be thrown off the bus; I still hadn't attained Superwoman status, my goal of a being an equal, someone who isn't dismissed or passed over for the promotion, so I had to press forward.

It wasn't until several weeks later that I realized how bad I had become. I was having surgery under general anesthesia, and when I awoke all I can remember was telling the nurse I was in pain and asking my husband to get my iPhone. Yep, I wasn't even awake for 10 minutes, and I wanted to look at my emails.

Everybody knew I was going to be out of the office for several days so there was no reason for me to check my emails. My own insecurities made me think that by not being available I would be looked at as underperforming and not as an equal. My husband knew better. He kept me drugged up so I wouldn't check my emails and get all stressed out.

In a way it was the intervention I needed to realize that I had to stop trying to be something that wasn't real. It didn't feel good, it didn't feel right at the time, but I needed to be stopped before I got any worse.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft's MCSE and MCSD will become HARDER to win
Redmond decides it won't replace Masters certifications, so lesser certs get more rigour
Pinterest diversity stats: Also pale and male (but not as much as Twitter)
Cats'n'flowers site latest to admit white men rule its roost
MoJ IT workers 'n' pals extend strike action over privatisation
Fears of cuts when shared services gig moves to Steria
'Oh my god – Mark Zuckerberg wants to meet me'
'The Swiss have got no great interest in working with Apple'
Dammit, Foxconn: Where's our 1 MILLION-strong robot ARMY?
'Foxbots' just aren't good enough to take up the slack
Devs: Fancy a job teaching Siri to speak the Queen's English?
Spik propa lyk dis blud innit, ya get me?
Bankers bid to use offshore temp techies
WikiLeaks publishes Financial Services Annex to 50-nation Trade in Services Agreement
Hey! Where! are! the! white! women! at!? It's! Yahoo!
In non-tech jobs, that is – still mostly white men running Marissa Mayer's web biz
Non-techies: The cute things they say
'OK, smartass, the firewall is blocking the proxy server.'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.